Farewell, Phineas…

Phineas O'Shields Basenji Watercolor Illustration Painting

The world lost a special little light this week as we had to bid farewell to one very unique basenji dog named Phineas. Our happy little trio has become a duo for now. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a furry friend, but perhaps “goodbye” is the wrong word. After all, they never leave our hearts. And, I know for many of you who follow my rambles, you’ve come to know Phineas as well. Indeed, I think he always thought he was quite famous and that he would be remembered for years to come across the globe. At least, that’s the persona he seemed to have. And, losing a third of a trio leaves Philippe and I a bit off balance, like a leg of a stool that suddenly gives way. I wish I had better words for times like these, but words can come up short in matters of the heart. What I can say is that I’ll miss that little dog and cherish every memory we’ve shared in our short time together for a lifetime.

While I typically share nearly everything that happens here, I didn’t mention that Phineas was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year. It was more personal than I could have ever realized and I chose to keep that bit private. He had an inoperable tumor, and though we managed to keep him comfortable and with us for a bit longer than was expected, the end was always quite near. Philippe and I were grappling with that horrible choice of when it was going to be time to let him go. Yet, the first item on that checklist is a loss of appetite and Phineas was always still quite interested in hobbling over for a treat. I made the comment that if he was no longer able to eat, he would probably make the decision for us.

On the night before he passed, he turned down a treat for the first time in his entire life. And, when we awoke the next morning, we found that he’d died in his sleep. It was peaceful, and for a moment I felt a bit guilty as a sense of relief washed over me. I was relieved that Philippe and I didn’t have the make the choice for him. Relieved that he never had to suffer and be in any pain. And, even a bit impressed that he managed to never miss enjoying his food and leave before a big snowstorm the following day. He always hated the snow.

He was a constant part of our lives and our daily routine. A routine that changed, and no longer includes him. We still catch ourselves looking at his spot on the couch to check in on him, or thinking that we need to take him out before we go to bed. But he’s not here anymore. Those soft, and sometimes not so soft snores are no longer a part of our lives. Instead, those little sounds have been replaced by a profound silence. While I know that nothing wonderful lasts forever, it’s still tough to imagine it ever ending while that wonderful thing is happening. Moments with Phineas were never anything I took for granted, but I wasn’t focused on our future, only cherishing the now. Each little kiss on his forehead before we went to sleep at night. Kisses I won’t be able to give anymore, but they still feel just as real in my memories. I’d kiss the top of his head each evening, including that last one. And, each time, he smelled just like a puppy. It was just like that first day when I brought him home from the shelter.

From that moment on, we’ve shared over a decade of special moments and memories. He was there through some of the most turbulent times in my life along with some of the most incredible. Moments so special that they move beyond a simple remembrance and almost become lore. Philippe and I had a very detailed narrative that we had created for Phineas, and though we know it was mostly imagined, it still felt perfectly real. We know that he’s never going to leave us, and that he’ll likely be there still judging us as we adopt another dog. A tiny voice in our ear telling us what we should and shouldn’t do next. There will certainly be another furry companion coming in the near future. We love dogs and our big hearts will burst if we’re not able to share that love. There’s no replacement for Phineas, to be sure, but there’s always another love story out there waiting to be told. In moments like these, I just wish I could find the words to better tell the ending to this one.

I know I should say more. I’m sure there are so many things I’m forgetting to mention. But, when you lose something so special and important, it’s often difficult to remember all of the things that surely must matter. What I can say is that even while my heart is breaking, I still haven’t lost my sense of hope. I still remember that moment when Phineas first came to live with me, and the even more amazing moment when he first met Philippe. I’m thrilled that I was able to share him with all of you, and that you could be part of his amazing little story, and indeed, meet some of his friends and even hear from him directly.

Somewhere between what I imagined and the simple moments that truly happened every single day, there’s a rich picture of an exceptional little life. And though I don’t have all of the words to express what I’m feeling today, I have already captured so many of them here over the years. So, I’ll simply say that I’m truly lucky to have been a part of this incredible dog’s life. While goodbye is just used to express parting, there’s another word that’s used to share good wishes as well. That feels more appropriate for this extraordinary little being. So, with all of my aching heart I’ll continue to hold every memory close while I attempt to hold back tears and find the soulful courage to lovingly say, “Farewell, Phineas…”

About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.:  Yellow Ochre, Gold Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade), Indigo. ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
Phineas O'Shields Basenji Watercolor Illustration Painting Sketchbook Detail
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94 Comments
  1. JenE 4 weeks ago

    H, can hardly see through the tears to type. Our animal companions are the best. Next one when the time is right is truly the way to honor the one(s) moved on. 2/22/22 is a wide open portal — he chose that graceful slide out for all of you…

  2. mlaiuppa 4 weeks ago

    I know exactly how you feel. And I’m not being trite. I mean exactly.

    My Ramses was diagnosed with among other ailments, cancer. He had lost his appetite a bit but his pain was managed with meds. He had a great Thanksgiving Eve with my parents and their dog, having a walk in the neighborhood. He was almost his old self, bouncing around. But on Thanksgiving day I could tell he wasn’t feeling himself. I did make the decision to take him to the vet that Saturday but being the gentleman that he always was, he relieved me of that final act by passing away that night, lying next to me in the bed.

    The silence in the house was deafening. I had intended to wait perhaps six months before getting a new dog. I was going to take a road trip up the coast to stop at scenic spots and do some plein air. But after two weeks I couldn’t take the silence any more. The house was empty. Too empty. I started looking and brought Diana pawPrints home on December 22.

    Dogs do for us their entire lives. I believe they would think they had not done their jobs right if we never got another dog. They don’t want us to live in silence and solitude, mourning for them and enshrining their collars and dog bowl. If they’ve done their job, we would want to get another dog when the time is right. I waited three months after Caesar passed. I waited 2 weeks after Ramses passed. After 25 years of living with a dog, I found I couldn’t not live with one.

    I have two now. Freyja Grey came to us from death row in Hesperia, CA. Once she settled she has been wonderful. She is a happy girl, olympic kisser and will likely outlive Diana at half her weight. I’ve already been pondering what I will do at likely around age 80 when I am dogless again. Will I be able to take on a puppy? Will I be able to stand the heartbreak of saying goodbye to a series of senior dogs every few years? I’m not sure what I will do.

    But I know exactly how you feel. What you do will be up to you.

    My sincere condolences on your loss. Phineas was a wonderful dog and he had the best life. I’m sure he would be overjoyed to know that because he was such a good dog, you will be giving the best life to another dog.

    Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog in the world. And no one is wrong.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much for your kind words💕 Yes, our dogs are always the best. And I’m so sorry to hear about Ramses, but happy to know you’ve got two more furry companions. I think about the same things as I get older, but then I remember that for the dogs we save, it’s the fullest and best life ever. And, for me, that’s a gift that’s worth any measure of grief in the end.

  3. Mari 4 weeks ago

    Oh dear Charlie and Philippe, my heart aches for you and this loss. I feel like I knew your sweet boy through all the stories that you shared, and I am sad. Our fur babies touch our hearts in ways no other being can, and to have that blessing us indeed a great gift, in my opinion. We will remember Phineas in our next donation to an organization that can help to give another pup their forever home, and the love that Phineas shared with you. May time and sweet memories sooth your heart. And may you know that when the time is right, he will be sending you someone special! 💗💗💗💗💗🐾🐾

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Mari 💕 And what a sweet gesture for Phineas. I truly appreciate it!

  4. Mary Glass 4 weeks ago

    It’s so hard to lose them-they’re family. Sorry for your loss but glad the end was peaceful

  5. Ellen 4 weeks ago

    As I read your lovely heartfelt tribute to Phineas the tears were soon running down my face. Phineas will be missed not only by Philippe and yourself, but also by the many followers of this blog who have loved him too. “No time on Earth is long enough to share with the animals we love, or prepare our hearts to say good-bye.” – Unknown. Betwixt the tears of sadness and smiles for the happy memories : Farewell, Phineas! Thank-you!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Ellen💕 Phineas will definitely be missed, but so happy you got to spend time with him as well.

  6. ~M 4 weeks ago

    😢

  7. Teresa 何 Robeson 4 weeks ago

    Oh, Charlie, I am so very sorry for your and Philippe’s loss. I have enjoyed your stories and doodlewashes of Phineas over the years, as, I’m sure, have many of your fans. His passing leaves a hole in all our hearts. Love and hugs to you and P. ❤️❤️

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Teresa💕 Phineas will definitely be miss. I’m so happy you got to spend a little time with him. Hugs and love my friend!

  8. Sandra Strait 4 weeks ago

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, Charlie. Our furbabies have such short lives, yet manage to enrich our so much. You say it was hard to find the words, but you expressed the feeling of loss and of remembrance very well. Phineas touched your hearts, and through you, the hearts of many others. We’ll all miss him.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much, Sandra 💕 I’m finally getting back to these comments. It makes my heart so happy to know that I could share Phineas. He’ll definitely be missed.

  9. Brenda Sommerville 4 weeks ago

    My heart goes out to you

  10. P P Shaw 4 weeks ago

    Much love as you say good-bye to one who has been so special in your lives. May you find peace as you adjust to the space, and much joy in the memories he has given you.

  11. Linda Murray 4 weeks ago

    Very sorry, Charlie. 🥲 Still miss our fur baby. Also cancer. I wish she would have passed in her sleep, but we had to make that decision to put her down. We cried buckets while we held her. Think of her many, many times. Miss her greeting each time we came home. Miss her snuggling against us, and much more. Maybe a new book dedicated to Phineas and his time with you? Describing all his antics and the joy he brought. Take care Charlie and someday you will hold your fur baby again. ❤️

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much, Linda 💕 Phineas was definitely an interesting and fun character. I think he’ll make his way into many of my future books, either in name or spirit!

  12. JA Wilson 4 weeks ago

    Oh I am so sorry. You are right they do stay with you. They’ve carved a special spot in your heart that is all theirs.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks for the kind words 💕 Yeah… the animals in our lives are forever connected to our hearts.

  13. Shari Lynne Pratt 4 weeks ago

    I’m stunned and saddened at this sad news. Phineas was so much a part of this page, and I loved reading about his adventures. Especially when he was his inimitable self. May his memory be for a blessing for you and Philippe and all of us who loved him.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much, Shari 💕 I’m delayed in responded to these comments, but wanted to get back to them. I’m so thrilled you got to know Phineas. He was fun to hang out with. I’ll miss him dearly, but glad I could capture a bit of his antics here to remember for years to come!

  14. Eve 4 weeks ago

    Yes, I remember those feelings after our 18 year old dog died too. It’s a tough time. We decided not to get another so that we could be free to travel more easily. Now though, some years on, one of our daughter’s got a puppy who is on “loan to us” three days a week. I miss him when he’s not here instead now! Sending some love your way.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, for the kind words, Eve 💕 Phineas will be missed dearly. And a loaner puppy sounds like something to miss each time he’s gone as well. My sister had a similar situation, too. Much love

  15. Lisa 4 weeks ago

    My deepest sympathy to both of you. He was a good dog who was lucky to have such well trained people in his life. Hold on to the memories and he lives forever.

  16. Laura H 4 weeks ago

    Charlie and Philippe, you have my heartfelt sympathy. It IS so hard. I’m very thankful that Phineas went peacefully on his own terms. Take care.

  17. Mary Roff 4 weeks ago

    Holding you and Phillipe in my heart. Phineas WAS famous and those of us who have known him through Doodlewash loved him and will miss him too. I understand the sadness you’re experiencing and also want to thank you for sharing Phineas with us all this time. 🧡

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Mary 💕 Getting back to these comments. Phineas WAS famous, right? That what he always thought! 😉 We’ll definitely miss him, but he’s still in our hearts and even our minds, telling us what he thinks about everything.

  18. Linda G 4 weeks ago

    Charlie, see my letter in your inbox. This is so sad and you did suggest at one time that he would not be with you much longer. Yes he will keep watch and make sure you don’t do anything he doesn’t like. Hugs.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Linda 💕 Just getting back to replying to you here. I truly appreciate the kind words and support.

  19. CJ 4 weeks ago

    So sorry for the lose of your furry friend. You’re right that he is still with you in memories.

  20. Robert Coleman 4 weeks ago

    Charlie, my heart sank when I saw the title of your email in my list, Phineas has left us. We can say soothing things for the loss of such a friend, but your pain will be so deep that no one else can fathom it. So many of us have lost little friends and we can share in some of your hurt. Thanks for the stories of him and his friends, the warm feelings that he gave us. Blessings on you and Philippe, and on the sweet memories of Phineas.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Bob💕 After all of the Phineas posts over the years, this was the one I wish I never had to make. But, I’m so happy to have captured his stories and been able to share them. Those sweet memories will live on and on!

  21. Susie M 4 weeks ago

    I am so so very sorry…. there are no good words for how it feels to lose a beloved pet who is really a member of your family. I know you have amazing memories of him, but it doesn’t take away the missing of a warm, furry, body and unique personality. Prayers and hugs for you both.

  22. Sorry to hear of your huge loss. I’m sure it leaves a big emotional hole in your heart -God bless you Linda

  23. Ellie 4 weeks ago

    I am so sorry, Charlie. I cannot find the words to tell you how much my heart aches for you and Philippe.💔

  24. Marisela Delgado 4 weeks ago

    Charlie, you broke my heart. I started crying immediately upon reading your header. It just all reminded me of when my little boy, Monster, died. Your words echo mine and I am painfully reminded of that deafening SILENCE. I thought I would lose my mind with that brutally painful silence. I didn’t know what to do with myself because, like you guys, my schedule and life revolved around my little boy.
    I am so sorry. You and I have had this conversation before except it was about my Monster. My heart is broken and I am sad with you and Philippe. Your little boy is gone, but oh, what a fabulous life he had to be so loved and cared for. You gave him a life that so many dogs never have.
    I choose to believe that maybe my little boy has a new friend. He wasn’t very social and hated rain (and baths) so they are kindred spirits. 😂😂😂

    Phineas: Are you, Monster? My dad and your mom are friends.
    Monster: I miss my mom.
    Phineas: She misses you, too. Wanna be friends?
    Monster: Sure. You know, we were both lucky dogs. Lots of toys, treats, warm beds, and we were both infamous. We were loved.
    Phineas: And we always will be. 💜 No playing or pooping in the rain, okay?
    I am sad with you and Philippe.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Marisela, thank you so much💕 I’m replying to your comment here a bit late, but we already chatted in email. I appreciate your kinds words and so happy to got to learn about Phineas. And that dialogue between Monster and Phineas made me smile through the tears. Thank you so much for that. Much love.

    • scrittoralinda 1 week ago

      Marisela Saint Francis believed that animals go to heaven so when you get there you might see him!
      As you can see my name changed, used to be Linda G or writerLeenda or some such, I forget. Take care.

      • Author
        Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

        Indeed! 😃💕 hehe… and you have so many aliases! But, I always know it’s you! 😉

        • scrittoralinda 1 week ago

          aww thanks Charlie — I am trying to put up a web site and am sick and tired of the mind boggling stupidity and freaking out every five minutes for a week. When I did I went with Word Press (awesome awesome awesome and the very best Happiness Engineers ever) and it automatically opened my account with Doodlewash. I think. I don’t understand this left brain idiotic technology stuff. I am losing brain cells here.

  25. Zoie McIntyre 4 weeks ago

    As I sit here crying buckets for you and Philippe, I think of how happy Phineas made all of us and he will indeed be with everyone forever. But that doesn’t really help you now – I wish I could tell you that pain goes away. It doesn’t but it does soften and change. At times you will see him out of the corner of your eye and eventually that will bring a smile to your hearts and comfort too because it will feel like he is still watching out for the two of you. I think you made the right decision to keep that last part private. That time belonged to the three of you alone! I rejoice that he had such a pleasant leaving, because he is not gone – just on another journey.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Zoie💕 It actually makes me happy to know I was able to share Phineas with you. The more hearts he’s in the longer the memory of him will last. That’s always a wonderful thing indeed.

  26. Tazzie 3 weeks ago

    my heart aches for you all as you grieve Phineas. the phineas shape hole in your heart and spirits will be always there as it changes and fills with all the memories of love and joy in what he bought to your lives. Tazzie G

  27. Prior... 3 weeks ago

    Sending condolences – and also – Phineas lives on via some of the art!!

  28. Brenda Mohr 3 weeks ago

    Sending long-distance hugs to you and Phillippe for the passing of your beloved Phineas. May you be comforted by wonderful memories and knowing that you gave him a joyous life in your loving company.❤️

  29. Mugdha 3 weeks ago

    Charlie, I put off reading your post because of the title but eventually I had to send you a hug. The world did lose a very very special little light but the night sky got a brand new extra sparkly star to shine down on you & Phillipe. A star that will sparkle in your hearts as well as ours. I wish I could say more but all I can do at the moment is send you and Phillipe a big big hug. Love you loads Charlie,

    Love,
    Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much, Mugdha💕 I put off responding to comments on the Phineas post as well so I’m a little late. But I wanted to thank you for the sweet words. I truly appreciate them. Much love!!

  30. Gary Middleton 3 weeks ago

    Sorry for your loss, Charlie. That’s a lovely picture to remember him by.

  31. Varsha Koli 3 weeks ago

    I cannot even begin to imagine what the both of you are going through right now.. Phineas will be missed by all of us.. Stay strong, Charlie!

  32. M. L. Kappa 3 weeks ago

    Oh Charlie, I’m so so sorry. That’s the one problem with dogs, that they live a lot less than us. But I remember each one I’ve had.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Marina 💕 Yep, it’s totally unfair how short dog’s lives are, but that’s what makes them so incredibly special I guess. Appreciate it!

  33. Jacquie 3 weeks ago

    So sorry for your heartbreaking loss!

  34. Kerfe 3 weeks ago

    I’m so sorry Charlie. I feel like I knew him as well, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one besides you and Phillipe that will remember Phineas fondly. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe💕 I’m a bit late on responses on this post, but wanted to thank you for the kind words. I’m so happy you got to know Phineas!

  35. El Paso Mark 3 weeks ago

    I’m so very sorry for your loss Charlie. My thoughts and condolences to you and Philippe. I know how hard it is losing a furry family member.

  36. El Paso Mark 3 weeks ago

    And here Charlie, hope this helps. One of my favorite Kipling poems- The Power of the Dog.

    https://poets.org/poem/power-dog

  37. El Paso Mark 3 weeks ago

    And if you’d like to add Phineas to the Rainbow Bridge Monday candle lighting ceremony (I have 4 listed there)-

    https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/CandleLighting_Tribute/default.htm

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thanks for this. I think the outpouring of love right here has created it’s own sort of candle. And I truly appreciate it! 💕

  38. Serena 3 weeks ago

    I’m so sorry fro your loss. It’s always painful to lose a much loved fur-kid. They leave such a huge imprint on our hearts and will always be with us.

  39. niasunset 3 weeks ago

    I am so sad too to hear your loss. I can almost feel your pain. But they are in our hearts, and will be always with us. Love, nia

  40. Walks in Watercolor 3 weeks ago

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I hope the sadness in your heart will soon be replaced by loving memories.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much 💕 Yes, the memories of Phineas are just too wonderful… it’s so sad to not get to see him every day, but he’ll never escape my mind and heart.

  41. Nellie Nellie 3 weeks ago

    Oh Charlie and Philippe, my profoundest 😔 with you both right now and prayers for peace and consolation from a loving Creator to two amazing pup parents. The silence is stark but it’s good healing to rest in, nothing sounds (or snores😉) quite like a Phineas. All our love from the Nellie house🤗🤗

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much, my friend💕 We’ll truly miss Phineas, but so happy to have spent a part of our life with such a wonderful dog.

  42. Jacob 3 weeks ago

    This is gutting. I’m quite sure that Phineas was something of a celebrity anyway, but he reached a new level of stardom with his always entertaining appearances here, even gracing us with his presence once or . Who could forget that masterful self portrait? How lovely that you’ll have all of these to treasure in years to come, alongside countless other memories I’m sure. Like many others, I will miss him. Thinking of you both. <3

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 week ago

      Thank you so much, Jacob 💕 I’m wildly behind on replying to comments on this post. It was so sad to lose Phineas, though like everything he did, he left on his own terms. And yes… the self-portrait! We still have the original and I told Philippe we should hang it. I’m so thrilled that you got to know him here. I’d love to say I embellished things, but I think I actually just left a lot of the full antics out. Much love, my friend!

  43. Priscilla DeConti 3 weeks ago

    oh my Charlie my thoughts and prayers go out to you and Phillipe.
    I loved reading about his antics and getting treats. Sending you big hugs and love!!!

  44. Lynda Pleckan 3 weeks ago

    I felt your pain and your struggle to find words to bid farewell to Phineas, knowing all too well there are no words expressive enough to convey the depth of your feelings for him. May your memories of him bring you both peace and comfort.

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